SSI’s annual Best of the Best issue (July 2013) includes profiles of seven of the industry best-run installing security contracting companies. My interviews with executives and managers from each firm included asking how the recession has affected their business. It shows how strong, savvy and well managed companies are well prepared for almost any challenge the economy might throw their way. What follows is that exclusive bonus content. Be on the lookout for more online extras from both the Installer of the Year and Integrated Installation of the Year winners and finalists.
How has your business and practices been affected by the recession?
Rob Simopoulos, Advance Technology President: Once the recession hit, we found that many integrators were sitting back and not looking for new business. It almost seemed like they felt it wasn’t out there. I felt that it was a perfect opportunity to get out there and grow our business. We focused our sales team back to basics by getting on the street, burning their shoes out by cold calling and booking appointments. We went and met new prospects and started building relationships. We knew that the projects might not be available at that moment, but once the financial belts began to loosen we would be in a great position. The company has been in a growth pattern for years now, going from $5 million to over $9 million in three years. 2012 was a stellar year with us boasting the highest revenue and profitability year in company history. All of that hard work at the economic downturn paid dividends in the end.
Jeremy Bates, Bates Security General Manager/Owner: You would not know there was a recession based on our performance the last several years. Sales have increased every year. The size of our company in revenue, RMR and employees has also grown significantly. In June of 2012, we relocated to a brand-new facility, our new corporate headquarters in Lexington [Ky.], which is almost double the size of our former office. We have recently promoted a new residential sales manager within the company who will be assembling a brand new residential sales team. We intend to continue growing.
Alex Dunn, Vivint President: Despite an economic downturn, Vivint has consistently grown, acquired customers and succeeded in its core markets. Since 2008, when the U.S. recession began, Vivint has maintained 111% growth, a stark contrast to the 2.3% growth rate for the U.S. economy during that time. From 2006 to 2012, Vivint grew from $50 million to $2 billion in market value, and Vivint continues to expand into new vertical markets, as evidenced by Vivint Solar, one of the fastest growing residential solar providers in America. Started a year ago with only 10 employees, Vivint Solar now has several hundred and [Vivint CEO] Todd Pedersen predicts as many as 400 by the end of 2013. Vivint Solar is also seeing tremendous customer adoption rates. The company currently has 4,500 solar energy systems installed and expects to see 10,000 more by the end of 2013. Vivint prides itself as an innovative and disruptive force in the industry that also offers great jobs in the American economy. Last year, Vivint’s birthplace and headquarters location, Provo, Utah, was ranked No. 1 by Forbes as the Best Place for Business and Careers in the United States, and the region is experiencing tremendous activity both in tech startups and in luring established players like Adobe. Vivint’s role in developing Utah as a tech hotbed comes from its massive employee force and devotion to innovation.
Jamie Haenggi, Protection 1 Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer: Our industry is very resilient to recession. The recessional has had a minimal impact on our business and practice.
Mark VanDover, Tyco Integrated Security President: An economic downturn impacts most industries. One way TycoIS has been affected, for instance, is via the reduction in government spending and a reduction in consumer spending in retail since both government and retail are two TycoIS verticals.
Art Miller, Vector Security Vice President, Marketing: Overall, we had minimal impact because our customer base and geographic footprint is diversified. The areas that were impacted the most for us were new construction and retail. The builder market came to a stop and we saw slowdowns in spending in the retail vertical. The retail sector has rebounded but we are just starting to see some positive momentum in our builder business.
John Cerasuolo, ADS Security President and CEO: Not at all. We continue to invest in training and technology as our time horizon is a lot longer than the current economic climate.